Rising star Kieran Bird believes his selection for Tbilisi 2015 is perfect preparation as he moves ever closer to securing his dream of competing at Tokyo 2020.
Bird’s victory in the junior 200m butterfly at the British Championships in April helped the Cooper School pupil qualify for the EYOF event in Tbilisi later this month.
At just 15 years old, Bird is realistic when it comes to his chances of reaching the Olympic Games in Rio next summer but Tokyo is certainly on his radar.
He said: “This kind of event is definitely ideal preparation for the Olympics. This is the first step towards making the Olympic team and achieving my dream of competing at the Olympics.
“Competing in the Olympics is the primary objective for my career. I’m looking at the 2020 Games as a realistic goal.
“That will be in five years time and I have a lot of growing to do in that time and a lot more time to knock off my personal best.
“I have always wanted to represent Team GB and this is the first step for that.
“I have represented England in Italy before but not Great Britain. Not many people get the chance to represent Great Britain and it will be great to be able to say I have done that.
“I will be so proud to say I have swum for my country.”
The Bicester Blue Fins swimmer also finished third in the junior 400m freestyle at the British Championships.
And Bird is relishing the chance to take to the pool in Georgia and take on some of the best young stars Europe has to offer.
“I’m ranked sixth or seventh in Europe for my age group so I want to make a final,” he said.
“I didn’t record my best times at the British Championship because I was favourite [in the junior section] and the nerves got to me a bit whereas that won’t be the case this time.
“If I can get a better time at this event then I may be able to medal. I definitely want to make the final and getting a medal is something for me to aspire to.
“This is definitely the biggest competition I will have been a part of.
“This is the first international event where I will be competing alongside swimmers who could be in the Olympics in a few years time.
“It is really exciting. This will be my first major international event so I just want to take in the occasion and enjoy it.”
It is set to be a busy competition in the pool for Great Britain with a team of 16 heading to Georgia to compete for 32 medals.
Joining Bird in the men’s team will be Elliot Clogg, Jacob Greenow, Nathan Hughes, Scott McLay, Cameron Muir, Jamie O’Connor and Brodie Williams.
While for the women Athena Clayson, Annalea Davison, Sophie Hobbah, Caitlin Hubbard, Emily Large, Ellinor Southward, Rebecca Sutton and Katie Robertson all compete – the latter, at 13, being one of the youngest heading to Georgia.
© Sportsbeat 2015